Latin America was once portrayed by an eminent geographer as being a 'harmony of contrasts'. Most of Central America is a component of Latin America, though Mexico is occasionally included in definitions of North America. A continued high birth-rate in most countries of the region obviously places most strain on the incomplete and underfunded primary sector, and massive migration from rural to urban areas involving 'illegal' settlement adds a dimension to the educational profile that most Latin American governments have begun to cope with. The Latin American republics came into being as revolutionary responses to the oppression and neglect of Iberian colonial rule. The rural/urban dichotomy in education, while a virtually global phenomenon, has particularly deep roots in Latin America. A gradient of increasing incompleteness of even the primary sector descends from town, through village to the rural periphery, thus providing the educational dimension of the marginalisation of a significant proportion of the population of Latin America.